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Benefits of Chiropractic Care Following a Concussion

What Is a Concussion?

neck back painA Concussion is a brain injury in which the brain tissue is impacted by the skull. In the past, concussions and head injuries in the sports community were often overlooked. Concussions result in neuroinflammation in the brain that can persist after the initial injury and cause long term effects. Concussions neurons are damaged and excitatory neurotransmitters are released causing misfiring of nerves and ionic imbalances occur simultaneously. Since cells are damaged there is an increase in uptake of ATP (energy currency of a cell) to help repair the damaged cells and balance the ionic imbalances. The process is known as the metabolic cascade.

What are some common symptoms of a Concussion?

Following a concussion, the individual may experience symptoms ranging from headaches, post-traumatic stress syndrome to tiredness, insomnia, and neck pain. For most people symptoms typically resolve 80-90% within 7 days after a concussion. Unfortunately, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, tiredness, and fogginess at the time of the concussion usually are associated with longer recovery times. It is common for symptoms to get worse in the days following a concussion, especially with exercise or significant cognitive exertion. This suggests that even though someone may no longer have symptoms, their bodies may still have an underlying problem going undetected.

Should I get my Neck Checked following a Concussion?

The cervical spine can be involved with headaches following a concussion, especially the upper cervical spine. When the cervical spine is out of alignment it can also affect the function of the vestibular system which can play a role with dizziness and balance post-concussion. A study done by Hurwitz et al found that the cervical spine was involved in ALL individuals who had a concussion. This suggests that people who have had a concussion should get their neck checked by a chiropractor to see if they have a subluxation (misalignment).

A chronic history of concussions increase your risk for developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and dementia. In a 9-year study, retired professional football players that reported 3 or more concussions were 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to athletes that reported no concussions.

A study published in Nature Reviews Neurology found that a single diagnosis during the adolescence years increased your risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis by 22%, and individuals who have suffered two or more concussions increased their risk of MS by 133%!

How Can Chiropractic Help with Concussions?

When many people get a concussion, they often don’t think of going to a chiropractor for help during the recovery process. The brain is the most important organ in the body and the brain stem extends down to the first and second vertebrae in your neck. If these bones become misaligned during the whiplash/concussion, they can affect the function of the brain.

Often, the upper cervical spine can get misaligned following a traumatic event. Rotation in C1 and C2 have been found to decrease cerebral spinal fluid flow totally and partially to the brain. Cerebral spinal fluid plays a role in protecting and lubricating the brain, it provides nutrients, removes waste from the brain, and modulates pressure changes. Spinal adjustments can help to align the spine, improving CSF flow, making nutrients more available to the brain and spinal cord.

Misalignments in the spine can cause an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system decreasing vagal tone (rest and digest mode), which is important during the healing process and overall health especially when dealing with a concussion. If the spine becomes misaligned affecting the vagus nerve then many digestive and other health related problems can arise.

All skeletal muscles are under neurological control. If the nervous system cannot communicate properly with the muscles, then you have a loss of neuromuscular control. Adjustments can help to improve the neuromuscular control, by removing neurological interference that may be caused by subluxations in the spine.

Restoration through Chiropractic

The damaging effects from concussions have received more attention recently as athletes are speaking out about the life changing consequences of concussions. Even if you do not have symptoms from a concussion, it does not mean no damage has been done and symptoms can vary from person to person. Currently, there is no one-size fits all approach to preventing and treating concussions. Upper Cervical Chiropractic must be considered for anyone that has experienced one or multiple concussions. Restoring proper alignment facilitating improved nerve, blood, and CSF flow is vital in the healing and recovery process.

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